Six members of the Colombian armed forces were sentenced to prison Monday for their role in the death of a mentally disabled man in 2008, after he was falsely presented as a guerrilla soldier killed in combat.
During the case’s second court hearing, the military members were given sentences that ranged from 35 to 52 years in prison and ordered to pay hefty fines after Fair Leonardo Porras, who had down syndrome, was killed after being recruited into the armed forces in the Bogota suburb of Soacha.
After his murder, Porras was presented as an enemy combatant in the northern department of Norte de Santander.
In his ruling, the judge said it was obvious “that the death of Mr. Fair Leonardo Porras did not occur as a result of armed confrontation with members of the army, but it was an extrajudicial killing.”
Military recruiter Alexander Carretero Diaz testified in December to having received $500 from members of the Colombian Army for each man he recruited, including Porras, who were then murdered and disguised as rebel forces to inflate the military’s kill count in what has become known as the “false positives” scandal.
“I heard a while later that he had been killed, but I never knew by whom, or when, or why,” Diaz said in court.
Investigators have thus far been unable to locate retired Major Wilson Quijano Mariño, who was sentenced to 52 years in absentia for his role in the case.
Defense lawyers appealed the decision in a court in the central department of Cundinamarca.
The false positives phenomenon first came to light in 2008 when men who had dissapeared from Soacha were found in a mass grave near the Venezuelan border. An estimated 3,000 Colombians have been the victims of false positive killings since 2002.